Sometimes I wonder what the White Sox would be like without Ozzie Guillen.
Quieter, for sure; Ozzie actually tweeted from the visiting clubhouse after he got ejected in the first inning Wednesday night.
“This one is going to cost me a lot money. This is patetic (sic),” Guillen wrote.
He then added, in an apparent reference to plate umpire Todd Tichenor, “Today a tough guy show up at Yankee Stadium.”
Classic Ozzie being Ozzie, but — like most Guillen rants — easily ignored (except in this case, perhaps, by White Sox brass and baseball’s powers-that-be).
The real issue is this: Several rival executives think the White Sox would be better without Guillen, calling him “an emotional roller-coaster” and saying the team would benefit from more stable leadership.
Perhaps. But the point is moot.
If Guillen didn’t get fired last season, after engaging in one spat after another with general manager Ken Williams, he will not be fired anytime soon.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf is loyal to both Guillen and Williams. And the White Sox, despite their recent 1-10 slide, are going to rebound as surely as the Rays and Red Sox have, shifting the focus back to the team and away from Ozzie.
It might not happen right away, considering that the White Sox are in the early stages of a stretch in which they will play 30 of 43 games on the road. But the Sox, fifth in the majors with a $127.8 million payroll, aren’t as bad as their 10-15 record might indicate. And the AL Central isn’t that good.
If the White Sox win, it will be because their players perform to their track records. If the White Sox flop, it also will be on the players, no matter how much of a sideshow Guillen creates. As one veteran player said, for all of Guillen’s histrionics, no one doubts that he cares.
Guillen has his moments as a strategist, too, difficult as they are to decipher through all the noise. He handled his pitching expertly Tuesday night, showing the proper faith in starter Gavin Floyd and relievers Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos. He also inserted Brent Lillibridge as a defensive replacement in right field — and Lillibridge made two game-saving catches to preserve a 3-2 victory.
The White Sox fell Wednesday night, 3-1, victims of the latest stunning performance by Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon. Make no mistake, the Sox have created many of their own problems with their bullpen meltdowns, shoddy defense and disappointing offense. But check the stats: They’ve been unlucky, too.
Sox hitters entered Wednesday ranked 12th in the AL in batting average on balls in play, meaning that their batted balls were falling for hits at a lower rate than most other clubs. Sox pitchers, meanwhile, were the opposite kind of unlucky; they had the highest opponents’ BABIP in the AL.
Both trends, of course, are unlikely to continue. In fact, the White Sox’s fortunes started to turn in the ninth innings of the first two games of this series. Sergio Santos — closer No. 3, for those keeping score — was hit hard but earned two saves.
Which brings us to Wednesday, and the called third strike on Paul Konerko that triggered Guillen’s ejection and subsequent outburst on Twitter.
Guillen said he heard Yankees manager Joe Girardi and bench coach Tony Pena complain after Tichenor called the previous pitch a ball. He yelled at Tichenor, “Don’t let those guys intimidate you!” but said Tichenor didn’t hear him. A lively argument ensued on the field after Konerko struck out, and Guillen admitted that Tichenor “had every right to throw me out of the game.”
Crew chief Gerry Davis said that Tichenor indeed heard Guillen’s initial comment, and that Guillen was ejected for “profanity directed at the umpires, arguing balls and strikes."
Guillen’s in-game tweeting?
“I don’t worry about that,” Guillen said. “Let’s talk about ——- baseball.”
Guillen did just that in his pregame news conference, riffing at his jovial, entertaining best. He joked about Colon’s prolonged absences from the White Sox in 2009. Cracked that Omar Vizquel was still playing at 44 so he could avoid going home to his wife. Said the secret to Mariano Rivera was “cold blood and a lot of strikes” and professed little knowledge of the injured Jake Peavy’s status, saying the pitcher is “not on the 25-man roster. I’ve got 25 headaches right now.”
Afterward, I asked him about the White Sox exercising his option for ’12 — and his decision to remain with the club for that long.
“The reason we did it and I did it was to show the media to stay away from us: ‘When are they going to sign Ozzie? When are they going to sign Ozzie?’ ” Guillen said. “With all the things we went through last year, we wanted this year for people just to talk about the White Sox. Not about Ozzie and Kenny and all that B.S. That’s why we did it.
“If Kenny or Jerry doesn’t think I’m doing my job . . . they’re going to fire me because my players don’t produce. I respect that. I don’t mind getting fired. If I get fired, it’s for a reason. What reason? Me.”
No manager speaks as openly about getting dismissed. No manager is less outwardly concerned about his future.
In fact, Guillen’s best escape hatch soon might close. The Marlins are 15-8 under Edwin Rodriguez, who is signed only for this season. The team is not discussing an extension for Rodriguez, according to a major league source, but it might turn out that E-Rod — not Ozzie — is the best man for the Marlins job.
Then again, both the Marlins and Guillen share, um, a certain volatility. The Marlins, remember, wanted to talk to Guillen last offseason. The White Sox asked for left fielder Logan Morrison in a trade, sources say, not right fielder Mike Stanton, as has been widely reported.
A quality young player for a manager, even Ozzie would have made that deal. But the Fish would not bite, and Guillen stayed with the White Sox, ‘til tweet do them part.
“I want to be here for the rest of my life. But they don’t owe me anything,” Guillen said. “If the players don’t play the way they should be playing, who are you going to blame? You’re going to blame the manager. It’s part of the game.”
Everywhere, it seems, but with the White Sox. Guillen can’t talk himself out of this job, no matter how hard he tries.